Clint's Corner Archive

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The source for back issues of Clint's Corner. Forget a trade? Were Clint's predictions correct? Here's every edition, verbatim.

For 10/9/97

Play it again, John...

The faces change, the setting changes, and even the seasons change, but as sure as death, taxes, and beer in parking lots along Route 1, John Elway and the Broncos beat the Patriots. For the third year in a row, they beat them badly (34-13). It's almost getting ridiculous. Even the Broncos can't seem to explain their apparent dominance over the Patsies.

How did the winless Falcons and the mediocre Bengals give the Broncos a better run than the 4-0 defending AFC Champs? This makes no sense. I'm very down about the loss. Of course I did not expect the Pats to go 16-0, nor do I expect them to go 15-1 from here, but losses later this year to either the Vikings or Steelers will not sting as much as this one. At least we have beaten the Vikings and Steelers on occasion over the past 30 years. Now we know how San Diego feels when they play us. How come we never have "big games" against the Chargers? Why is it always always always the Broncos? They were 4-0, on national TV with a chance to establish themselves as the team to beat. The National audience which never gets to see the Pats play must now be wondering how the team has improved since Rod Rust was fired. Before you blame Pete Carroll, know that the 13 points the Pats scored were 2 more than Tuna's Pats scored combined in TWO games against Denver in Foxboro. (Although the penalties would NEVER be this bad on a Parcells team!)

Ummmm, Game Plan?

If Terrell Davis was some unknown back filling in for an injured starter, you could forgive the Defense for allowing 171 yards to him on 32 carries. At least then you could say they were not prepared. Quite the contrary, everyone knows that Davis is the heart of that team. As great as Elway is, you still must make him beat you. Davis was the workhorse on the opening drive, and the Pats surrendered a 75 yard march resulting in a TD. You can't blame the thin air on that one. On 2nd and 3 or 2nd and 2, even the Bears offense could open up it's playbook and hurt you. Is Davis really that good, or is the Pats run defense overrated? Davis only had 79 yards rushing in Atlanta the previous week.

If the Pats are fortunate enough to play these guys again, they should stack 10 men on the line of scrimmage and let Willie Clay play deep safety. Clay was the only guy back there making plays anyways. What's the worse that could happen with that gameplan? Elway throw for 450 yards, 5 TD's, and Pats get killed? At least that's a new way to lose to the Broncos, and they may even do better with it. It can't get much worse.

Easy on the caffeine...

Was it me or was Bledsoe visibly shaking in the pocket? Granted he was being pressured big time, but I don't ever recall seeing Dan Marino's or John Elway's body move like that. Jim Harbaugh gets thrown around like a rag doll in every game, and he doesn't quiver in the pocket!! I am not questioning Drew's toughness. He showed that he can stay in a game and be effective despite taking a beating. When he wasn't sacked, he was knocked down, and hard. The Bears did the same thing to him in the previous game. There is no question that Drew is a tough QB, but why is he so jittery? I don't think Steve Grogan even twitched once in his career with the Patriots. And I think those three batted balls in the first quarter should put to rest once and for all the notion that Doug Flutie is too short to play QB in the NFL.

Enough!

OK. Enough bashing of my favorite sports team of all time. If I loved them when they were 1-15, do you really think I don't like them now? Yes, I still think Drew is one of the best QB's in the league, and yes, I do think the Pat's D is a LOT better than they showed on Monday Night, but I have to vent somewhere. If you think we fans are disappointed in the loss, imagine how the players feel! We fans and the press don't need to pour salt on the wounds by criticizing their play against Denver. They sucked, and they know it as well as anyone else, so let's forget it and move on.

No snow on the ground yet...

Here in Massachusetts, when has there ever been a significant NFL game played before the first snowfall? Dick Albert (WCVB-TV meteorologist) may catch me on this one, but I'm going to venture that the answer is NEVER. Like I mentioned earlier, did you expect the Pats to go 16-0 this season? Do you expect Denver to go 16-0? The answer to both of those questions had better be "no".

If all of a sudden the Pats are some pretenders who won't challenge for the Super Bowl title, then so are the Packers who have lost to the Lions and Eagles, the Cowboys who have lost to the Cardinals and Giants, the Steelers who have lost to Dallas and Jacksonville, and the Jaguars who lost to Washington. See my point? If that's not enough for ya, then you had better be ready to write off the Broncos as well when they lose their first game, and it will happen, probably when you least expect it.

As for being the #1 seed in the AFC, it has been four years since the AFC's #1 seed has played in the Super Bowl. The 1993 Buffalo Bills were the last top dog in the AFC to advance. The 1994 Steelers were knocked off at home by the Chargers. The 1995 Chiefs were sent packing by the streaking wild card Colts, and the 1996 Broncos were put to rest by the "expansion" Jacksonville Jaguars. It's a well know fact that in any sport the "best" team does not always win the title. Has anyone noticed that baseballs greatest modern dynasty, the Atlanta Braves, has only won one Championship in the 90's?

Don't cry too hard if the Pats win the East at 11-5 like they did last year. The Packers Super Bowl Championship season of 1996 was not exactly tarnished by the fact that they lost 3 games that year, now was it? Have you heard any of those three teams stating that they are in fact better than the Packers since they beat them in the 1996 regular season? No, so relax folks, it's a long season. The Broncos won't be smiling if they aren't holding the hardware when the season's final game is played.

Back on the horse...

If the Pats lose to Buffalo on Sunday, the loss to Denver will seem like a picnic. The Pats had better pick their egos back off the field and get ready for a Bills team that desperately needs another early season win to keep the AFC East from being a two horse race. 4-2 for the Bills would tie them with New England, 3-3 would see them slip a full two games back, and they could still trail the Jets by 1.5 games as well. The one game swing can go a long way in shaping up this division. Buffalo has looked decent in all of their past 4 games, winning 3 of 4 with the only loss by a kickoff return for a TD by the Chiefs in KC. The Pats are 8.5 point favorites, but don't be misled. They were 10 point favorites over the Jets, and lets not bring that game up again.

Buffalo is semi-rebuilding, but the Defense still has plenty of veteran leadership, and remains one of the best units in the NFL. The young offense has showed their inexperience at times, but Todd Collins and rookie RB Antoine Smith have had their brilliant moments. Veteran leadership on that side of the ball by Andre Reed and Thurman Thomas has also been a nice complement to the youthful element. This Bills team is very capable of an upset this Sunday, particularly with the Pats having a short week of practice. The New York Jets are for real, and Buffalo beat them in New York, something the Pats may not be able to do in their game on October 19th.

Never is a 5 letter word...

So the Pats will NEVER win in Denver, huh? If they do play them in the playoffs in Mile High, you as well spare yourself from watching, right? How many of you out there remember the "Orange Bowl Jinx"? It was 1985, the Pats were 10-4, and were on the road in Miami to play the Dolphins on Monday Night Football in the Orange Bowl. They had not won there in something like 30 years, which included the playoffs. What's worse about that Jinx than the current Denver hex is that the Pats played in the Orange Bowl *every* season, and never won.

No matter. These 10-4 Pats were unstoppable. The AFC East title would be ours, and the nation would be watching on ABC. The Jinx was over! Wrong. The game was close, but in the closing moments with the Pats down 3, Eason threw an interception deep in Miami territory and the Pats left the rain soaked field dejected once again, perhaps convinced that maybe they were never, ever, meant to win in the Orange Bowl.

Four weeks later the Pats were back, and this time the AFC title was at steak. The Pats exorcised the ghosts big time in that game. They absolutely crushed the defending AFC Champs on their home field in what today remains one of the all time great wins in Patriot history.

Come this January, if the Pats find themselves back on the turf at Mile High Stadium when it really counts, don't turn off your TV, and never say never.

See you next week.